‘Cartier’ sounds like music to the ears when Arnaud Carrez says it in his native language. Born in France in 1973, educated in Paris, he would nevertheless take his first steps at Cartier in Mexico as Marketing and Communication Director of the brand. Carrez would rack up more miles with a move to Tokyo in 2005, before settling in Hong Kong. Now back in Paris, the new International Marketing and Communication Director of Cartier International, is of course still at home at Watches & Wonders, where we met him.
What a fascinating cultural exposure you have had, from your European roots, to your first steps in South America and South East Asia. What has been the most challenging marketing experience cultural-wise, for you internationally?
Each experience was very stimulating, very enriching. To enter into a new market, you need to first absorb the culture and understand the taste and different behavior patterns of people. To work with people with varying styles has always been great for me.
I would say probably Japan was one of the most stimulating experience because at that time Japan was still the number one market around the world for luxury. It was already very sophisticated and a mature market.
And, I arrived in Japan before the Lehman Shock. The country was revitalizing and then due the Lehman Shock, there were different cycles, ups and downs, so it was a very interesting experience for me.
Cartier has been present in Japan for many years, and this is still the case, we are doing extremely well in Japan. Next year we are going to re-open our Ginza flagship boutique, which is currently being re-built and it’s going to be an amazing place, probably the epicenter in Asia for the Maison and it shows Cartier’s commitment to Japan. It’s a very refined, and elegant market and I like Japan, as I lived there for 5 years.
Naturally, this brings us to the question of how Cartier views other Asian markets?
The power of Cartier is to have a very well balanced presence across the different regions and that’s really what makes Cartier different from many other luxury players, because we established our presence a very long time ago in Asia.
If you look at Asia as a whole, we have 142 boutiques including 3 in Singapore, which is a substantial number of Cartier boutiques, while preserving the exclusivity of our image. We are very careful about the perception of the Maison. South East Asia is a very important region and there are a lot of development in the pipeline for the next few years. So, Asia plays a big role in the world of Cartier, as Cartier is already considered a leader here, and we are really reinforcing our presence in this region. I am very confident about the future of this market.
What does ‘Clé de Cartier’ mean to you and do you think this will somehow influence subsequent Cartier collections?
The Clé means a lot to us because I really believe that it symbolizes the daring spirit and the willingness of the Maison to move ahead. Cartier has always been very committed to innovation and creativity. We have always liked to play with curves, designs, and shapes. If you look at our history, we have invented a lot of different shapes – the Tank, the Santos, the Tourneau, and the Ballon Bleu more recently. All these shapes have gone on to become ultimate references in terms of design and if you look at Clé, that is exactly what is happening – this reinterpretation of a circle in a Cartier spirit with a very daring and unique design, with angles being suppressed and with stiff curves – the design is already becoming a reference and we have only launched it six months ago. The feed-back is very good as people see it as a very Cartier-design. So, the case is going to last for many years.
You seem to like it!
Yes, I am wearing the Clé 40 mm in steel, although I should point out this version does not exist in the market yet! I like the design and find it very comfortable on the wrist.